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Antler in Nature


For Adult Readers Only

Castle on Hill

Chapter 1 

  Lord Safe Haven has informed us that the predators are putting our county deeper into ruin, those slimy vermin. They all need to be thrashed till there is nothing left to them. 

  “Can you believe it Cormac?” Erik my good old buddy expressed as he looked at me with reasonable disgust on his face. 

  “Their dumb brains are no surprise to me anymore. They will continue to plunder all over the lands and they won’t stop till they run this country into the ground.” I said with great determination.

 “Their frolicking with zero intelligence as they plunder! They need to be hunted more than we have done and rip away everything they hold dear! They are a disgrace to this country!” Erik projected. 

  “I highly agree! They need to be put in their place, to be taught a lesson and be buried beneath the earth and burn away their existence” 


  Suddenly a wave of people came rushing towards us with worried expressions on their faces and then came to a halt in front of Erik and I. 

 “Lord Haven has instructed us to hunt the Dupes this evening, strictly at seven, no later no less.” Maeve said sweetly. A beautiful woman with wistful caramel blonde hair and soft creamy skin.

 “Did he say which province?” I asked shyly, avoiding eye contact but it was impossible with those glittery pale green eyes of hers. 

 “Yes we are to hunt in Commodity” Maeve raised her voice for the rest of the crowd to hear. 

 “Wait, in Commodity? That’s the most lavish of all provinces.” Darin shared, another pal of mine. 

 “Yes Lord Haven wants us to finally cut them at the source that continues to supply these lowlifes that is destroying not only our own province but all of Nefarious.” Maeve replied while I was deeply captivated by her beliefs and the words she used stimulated me.

 “What are we waiting for! Let’s leave now and rip them apart!” Erik yelled as the whole crowd cheered with him.

 “No! We must obey our Lords orders.” Maeve said sternly as she glared at Erik. The only thing I hated, was my best companion and the woman I’m beguiled by, despise each other. Erik rolled his eyes and huffed. 

 “We are to make our way to the grounds and practice our skills for battle” Maeve instructed as the crowd, Erik and I made our way to the grounds and chose our preferred weapons. Mine was the common sword, easy and quick. Some liked to get fancy with their weapons such as nunchucks with blades, double sided daggers, chain whips, bow and arrows, and the list goes on.  


 Everyone began slashing at targets with their desired weapons. Call me old fashioned but I’ve stuck with using a sword for over twenty years. Erik has been the same with his double sided daggers for each of his hands. He made a strap to attach it around his right hand to never have to worry about losing it while he could use the other for throwing if necessary but it always seems necessary to him. As I watched Erik thrash at the dummy made out of straw, I caught something different about his eyes as if they turned into a black liquid. I shook my head, I must be seeing things. It oddly chilled me to the bone. 

I started slashing some dummies all though I didn’t need to, I know well enough on how to use a simple sword such as this. The rest of the younglings still need better practice especially with the weapons they had chosen. Usually you'd start out with a sword and work your way up but these young ones have cut right to the chase. Us elders will show them how to get better at their craft. 

As hours passed Maeve approached the group. 

 “Seven o’clock is coming near and we must make our way to Commodity!” Maeve ordered as her voice carried over the crowd and she waved her arm and pointed towards Commodity as we charged forward. Her hair moved swiftly in the wind that smelt like vanilla and rose. 

 “HALT!” Maeve showed the back of her hand to the group that was following behind her and we all screeched in our tracks.

 “Before we barge in and make a scene and get us all killed. We need to slip in without anyone hearing us or seeing us.” Maeve instructed.

 “Us? Get killed? HA!” Erik laughed.

 “Arrogance does not become you Erik. Now follow my lead” Maeve said while ignoring Erik. 

 “Isn't she a peach.” Erik whispered to me.

 “Just follow the rules.” I replied.

 “You know this is stupid right?” Erik said.


 “These Dupes don’t know how to battle. We could rush in, slash them all and we’ll be out in twenty minutes, tops.” Erik shared.

 “Erik. We’re in Commodity, the center of Nefarious. They have more power and are further equipped than the rest of the provinces. So in this instance I agree with Maeve.” I said.

 “Well of course you do” Erik gagged and rolled his eyes. 

 “What do you mean by that?” I whispered back.

 “Shut it!” A man said from behind us.

I didn’t say another word as we were stealthily sneaking behind Maeve and the rest of the group but Erik pointed at me and Maeve insinuating that I wanted to kiss her but I ignored him.

In Commodity there is a stone wall built around the province. We snuck along it and came to an open arch where guards stood. Maeve motioned one of her friends in the group to knock out both of the guards, Erin. Who Erik admired as much as I admire Maeve. Erin is one of the best and quickest when it comes to silent killings and knock outs. Erin swiftly knocked out the guard with his own helmet and he fell to the ground as did the other guard. 

 “Nice work Erin!” Maeve praised as Erik looked proud. 

They stepped over the guards except for Erik, he stepped on them as if they didn’t exist. We kept walking along the wall and getting closer to the castle.

 “Maeve.” I whispered.

 “What?” She whispered impatiently.

 “Are we…invading the castle?” I asked.

Maeve looked around and at the others who heard my question and seemed to have wondered the same as some nodded and others looked at her intensely, waiting for her to answer. 

She looked back at me and gave me a slight nod as the others gasped.

 “Why? Who are we attacking?” I asked.

 “I don’t have time to explain.” Maeve replied. 

 “We didn’t train for this.” One of the young men said, he looked to be about twenty. 

 “You’ve trained long enough.” Maeve replied.

  “Did Lord Haven instruct for us to do this?” I asked.

 “Yes. Why are you questioning this?” Erin replied for Maeve. 

 “It sounds as if we are attacking the authorities.” I asked nervously. 

 “Who cares Cormac!” Erik said.

 “We could all die or worse end up in prison” I replied. Prison was where people prayed for death but it would never come, well just never soon enough. 

 “Your overreacting.” Erik said. 

 "Lord Haven wouldn’t put us in a suicide mission if he knew we couldn’t handle it.” Maeve said. I know I'm not doing well with winning Maeve's affection but this was bigger.

 “He wants us to take out the leader who is killing children! We don’t want that do we?” Erin asked Cormac as she raised her eyebrow. 

I answered with a nod. I had no more words just my head was swirling with concern. I’m never usually like this, concerned. I’m unsure of why. Just a feeling in my gut tells me something just isn’t right. I've never questioned Lord Haven or Maeve before.

 “It’s time” Maeve whispered and turned around to face the group. “We are going to raid the castle. Your mission is to kill anyone in sight but our main goal is to kill Commodity’s Leader, Deirdre.” 

 “Let’s go!” Erik roared. 

 “Erik! Are you trying to get us all killed? Shut your mouth.” Maeve whispered harshly as Erik hung his head. Something I never saw him do especially not for Maeve. 

Maeve instructed us all to charge into the doors of the castle. We busted down the large wooden doors and began slashing the guards and anyone that approached us. I swung my sword at a few guards and they fell dead. The room was turning into a massacre. Suddenly someone was running towards me, I quickly drew my sword up but then I saw this person who without a doubt was apart of the Royal family due to the lofty quality she was dressed in. She looked distraught and unarmed. Why am I hesitating. She is part of the royals that we are instructed to kill, but for some strange reason and for the first time ever, I couldn’t bring myself to stab her. She looked so innocent. Innocent, a word I never thought or spoke of. What was happening to me?

 “Please Sir, your attacking the wrong sort of people.” The lady said. 

 “What do you mean?” I asked as everyone around us were thrashing at her family members as tears were welling up in her eyes. Then suddenly Erik grabbed a hold of her arm.

 “What do we have here!” He said slyly.

 “PLEASE DONT HURT ME!” She begged as she looked at me desperately to help her. Then once again I caught Erik’s eyes turning black like it had before.

 “And why shouldn’t we?” Erik laughed.

 “Erik” I said, wanting him to let her go.

 “What’s your problem Cormac? Why haven’t you killed her yet?”

 “I…I don’t know.” I said as he looked at me confused. 

  “Well I have her now, go ahead” Erik said as he held her forward and she continued to sob.

 “All of you are blind! BLIND!” She screamed in horror that I was going to kill her but for some reason I had no intention to do so and was more curious as to why she said we're all blind.

 “Come on Cormac, DO IT!” Erik said while shaking the woman. 

 “No.” I said backing away and avoiding eye contact with Erik.

 “DO IT!” Erik screeched.

 “NO!” I yelled back and whipped my gaze into his.

 “You coward!” Erik said as he turned her around quickly and before I could rip her away from his arms, he killed her with his double edged sword that was tied around his hand. She fell to the floor in front of my feet. I stood bewildered. Death and murder never bothered me before but maybe it was because she was an innocent. We came to kill the leader not the people who lived within the castle this wasn’t right. I have always been an honorable man and did my duties for our Lord without question. I shook my head and ran towards a corridor leaving Erik behind. I saw a guard and killed him with my sword without thought as if it was reactionary or as if it was programmed in me. My emotions and thoughts were playing tug of war. I wasn’t supposed to stray from the group but I had to get out of there. I was finally alone and I dropped my sword. As I heard it clang against the stone floor, my hands clamped on to my knees and I hung my head as I breathed in and out heavily. After a few minutes I finally looked up and saw the room I ran into. I’m in the Leaders throne room. I saw her chair sitting tall and it looked intimidating. No one was in sight. I walked around looking at the paintings on the walls and saw one of them was of that young woman who Erik killed, she was a Princess. I felt remorse, is that what this feeling was? Remorse. What has happened to me. Suddenly voices are echoing but from where? I put my back to the wall near me and keep quiet, trying to hear where the voices were coming from. 

 “What are we to do your Majesty?” Someone asked as it echoed down a corridor. I took a few steps forward and saw that there was a small opening in the wall that looked to be one of those hidden rooms. I stood close to the opening and took a quick peak and looked down the hall. There stood the leader, Deirdre and one of her servants and then she spoke and I quickly and quietly turned away from their view and stayed against the wall, listening in. 

 “I don’t know Mary-Ann. These poor souls don’t know what they’re doing. They believe everything their leader tells them.” Deirdre replied.

 “What do they believe?” The servant asked. 

 “They believe that I am killing children” Deirdre replied. 

 “But... you're not are you?” 

Deirdre chuckled, “No of course not, how could I do such a horrifying thing? Lord Haven is telling his clan that to blind them from the truth.” Deirdre sounded chocked up. 

 “How will we stop them?” The servant asked. 

 “We have to attack back, they are too far gone for us to be able to help them."

Written By; Kaylee Buckingham

Image by Chris Linnett

Chapter 2 

  The hunter clan left Commodity after they had obliterated the inside of the castle and it’s leader. Everyone cheered with glee that we all won and accomplished Lord Havens orders but I was not cheering, not even a crack of a smile appeared on my face. I felt a strong wrongful sense that churned in my stomach, one atrocious smell and I’d hurl right here and now at the table and ruin everyone’s desire to drink their ale.

I watched as they all clanged their tin mugs together and began to sing with huge smiles on their faces and looked disgustingly jolly.


“You feeling well my friend?” Darin asked as he looked at me with concern.

“I’m alright.” I said blankly.

“You sure? You look pale.” Darin noted.

“Maybe he got infected by one of the Dupes diseases.” One of the men said as he took a large gulp of ale as some dripped down his chin and neck.

“Nah that’s not it” Erik interjected with a sorrowful expression.

“What is it ?” Darin asked.

“That's the face of someone who has been spellbound.” Erik said as everyone gasped.

“Spellbound?” One of the younglings asked confused.

“He had trouble killing one of the Princesses” Erik said condescendingly as Darin and the rest of the clan at the table fell silent.

“You…what?” Darin looked at me and then I caught Maeve staring at me as well but not in the way I’d like.

“Well I …” Then Erik cut me off.

“They casted a spell on our poor brother here! They got into his head, twisted his thoughts and controlled him to heel like a dog!” Erik said loudly for everyone to hear. The clan banged their ale hard on the table with frustration.

“When will these Dupes stop interfering with our minds!” One of the women yelled.

“How can we get Cormac out of this curse?” Maeve said seeming concerned for me.

Was Erik right about this? Heck, maybe he is, when the princess approached me I suddenly stopped drawing my sword but I’ve never been cursed before so how would I know how it would feel? But once Erik had killed her the curse had to have lifted because I was fine killing that guard afterward. I shook my head and I realized I was taken for a fool!

“You’re right my friend! You have shown me the light!” I stood up with anger as the fog lifted from my eyes and I could see clearly again.

“Yes our brother has come back to us!” Erik said as he put his arm around my shoulder. “Cormac my dear good friend of thirty years! Let’s drink some ale and celebrate” Erik brought up his glass and I brought up mine and we clanged the glasses together and gulped them down our gullets and proceeded to through out the night.


Next morning I awoke on the stone floor. I slowly sat up and felt a twitch in my back and the tension in my shoulders. I rub my eyes and feel queasy and lightheaded from all the drinking and the dancing. I look around for Erik but don’t see him anywhere in the room but everyone else passed out on the benches, tables and the floor. I stood up and began to stumble as I walked down the corridor going towards my room where I can lay and have a better rest. Suddenly I hear noises as I approach closer and closer to my room. Hoping no one has taken use of it. The noises became louder as I passed Erik’s room, I stepped back quietly as I saw that the noises were coming from his room. I peaked in the doorway, not sure why but my fuzzy brain wasn’t thinking clearly. I saw Erik having relations with a woman. I quickly left and darted into my room as not to disturb or for one of them to see me. I closed my door and sat on my bed. Oddly I wasn’t tired enough to sleep so I sat and thought about what had happened to me. Was I really cursed? I had to be, that’s the only thing that makes sense. They casted a spell over me to feel remorse to which is why I didn’t know that feeling before and I could never come up with that myself. Although did the curse really leave me? I still feel remorse deep down inside me. No Cormac! Don’t let the curse become you. You were doing what was right for the country, what our loyal Lord Haven instructed us to do! You were doing the right thing but what about what Deirdre said? That we were too far gone to be helped? Then I heard Erik’s door squeak open and I heard a familiar female voice. I opened my door slightly and to my bewildering shock the woman Erik was having relations with was…Maeve.


I stumbled back on to my bed and stared at the door not knowing what to think. My stomach churned all over again like it had before. I couldn’t bring myself to stand, I couldn’t bring myself to burst through the doors and erupt on Erik. He knew I was crazy for Maeve. I thought they hated each other, they must have put on a fake display. Well they had me and had me good and not just me but everyone. I heard Maeve walk past my room and I wanted to whither away into a pile of ash.


I finally stepped out of my room as everyone was rustling about throughout the chalet. I wanted to confront Erik but I also wanted to confront Maeve and ask her, why him? Why would she ever be attracted to such an arrogant man like him? It was her words! She was so genuine with her hatred towards him. I don’t understand it, I don’t want to understand it. How can my best companion of thirty years betray me like this?


“Cormac! Ah buddy, my good old buddy let’s say we go to the grounds and practice our sword fighting hey?” Erik said as he saw me down the corridor.

“Yes, why don’t we do that.” I agreed cunningly.

Erik smiled and patted me right where his figurative knife had stabbed me in the back.

We made our way for the grounds, geared up and took our stance with our swords. He looked at me with glee as I looked at him with hate boiling inside me.

As we swung here and swung there and dodged each-other several times I took a quick jolt towards him.

“Hey! What are you doing!” He yelled.

“Just practicing” I said

We continued on and then I jolted at him again as my sword nearly nicked the side of his hip.

“Watch it!” He said sharply.

I said nothing as the anger had boiled over as I kept imagining him and Maeve going at it. I jolted at him again this time it was near his face.

“What’s your problem?” Erik confronted.

“What’s my problem? You wanna know what’s wrong.” I said through gritted teeth.

“You nearly stabbed me twice through my hip and face so yes I’d like to know what the heck is wrong with you!”

“Your a backstabbing imbecile that’s what.” I blurted.

“What did I do?” Erik asked as his face was turning red with anger.

“You know very well what you did!” I yelled.

“What! What did I do!” Erik said acting innocent.

“You slept with Maeve that’s WHAT!” I roared.

Erik’s red face drained to white as snow and his eyes widened as he dropped his sword but I kept a hold of mine pointing at him.

“How…do you know?” Erik's voice cracked. 

“Who the cares how I know!” 

“Cormac I …I can explain.”

“You made me out to be a fool Erik! I thought you despised her. I thought you knew I loved her!”

“Cormac listen.”

“You were my friend for thirty years.” I said.

“Were?” Erik looked at me as if I was the betrayer. 

“You bet it’s were” I replied.

“Cormac you don’t know what your saying, if you just let me explain.”

“What? what could you possibly explain?”

“I do despise her. She does despise me. I don’t know what happened man. We were drunk very, very, drunk. Honestly I thought she was Erin.”

“You thought she was Erin?” I asked with disbelief.

“Clans Honor!” He ponded his chest with his fist.

“What about Maeve?”

“She told me this morning that if I said a word of it she would kill me faster than Erin could.”

“Why did she sleep with you!” I roared.

“She was just as drunk as I was, she had know idea it was me.”

“Did she say who she thought it was?” I was secretly hoping she thought it was me.

“No. Cormac you know I hate Maeve and I’d never sleep with someone that you admire knowingly.”

Annoyingly Erik seemed sincere. I didn’t want to forgive him, not this quickly. I wanted to rage about it for days but I knew when he was genuine and he would never say Clans Honor and pound his chest just at anything, it had to mean something and if it didn’t to him he wouldn’t, no matter how bad it made him look.

“I'm sorry Cormac” Erik hung his head.

I lowered my sword and then dropped it.

“If I find out you have lied to me. You would be begging for Maeve to want to kill you because I wouldn’t be quick with it.” I said sternly as he hung his head even more and then nodded.

“I promise Cormac.” Erik replied. 


Erik and I entered the hall as everyone was eating and chatting. I caught Maeve’s distressed eyes and then she quickly looked back to Erin. She must be filled with worry that Erik may have told me. I wanted to ask her what happened but I don’t have any authority, we are not courting. She can be with whoever she pleases. Although I must ask her if she would ever be interested in me. I’ve admired her for well over six years and it’s time I man up and approach her. I took a deep breath in and started to strut over to her.

“Cormac.” Erik whispered and held on to my arm.

“What?” I said sharply, I was loosing my concentration.

“Now is not the time.” Erik must of sensed that I was going to finally be brave with Maeve.

“Why not?” I asked.

“I don’t want her to think that you are going over there because of what happened” Erik said concerned.

“I won’t say a word about it.” I said but then Lord Haven entered the room and everyone fell silent and quickly stood up from their tables as they kicked back the wooden chairs that scraped against the stone floor.

We all pounded our chests with our right hand and then our left. We stomped our right foot hard against the floor and straightened our posture.

“Greetings Lord Haven!” I and the whole room said.

“Greetings! My loyal Contributors” Lord Haven slightly bowed to us while I was feeling uncomfortable with the word contributors. Sounds as if we are his handouts, his assistants. No-one else seems to be as bothered as I am. As he always said this to us?

“I enter into this room today to share my utmost gratitude for the astounding and righteous act you did for Nefarious. Taking out Deirdre must have been a great challenge but remember, that you saved innocent children and the country from her evil acts.” He bowed to us again and marched out but then he swung back around and darted a look right at me.

“Cormac” Lord Haven said confidently.

“Yes Sir?” I replied.

“Follow me.” Lord Haven said and turned back around and began to walk away. Erik pushed me from the back and I stumbled forward to follow Lord Haven. I looked around me and everyone was starting at me with confusion. I don’t blame them I’m confused myself.

Written By: Kaylee Buckingham

Image by Marjan Blan | @marjanblan

Chapter 3 Coming Soon...

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